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gave great and astounding proofs of his skill. For to noticed by Plutarch, who, in his life of Crassus, relates some he foretold storms in the height of summer; and to that the tribune Atticus made a fire at the gate out of others drought and heat in the midst of winter; to some which the general was to march against the Parthians, scarcity succeeding a fruitful year, and then again abun- | into which he threw certain ingredients to make a fume, dance after scarcity; to others the overflowing and drying and offered sacrifice to the most angry gods, with horrid up of rivers, and the remedies of pestilential diseases, and imprecations. These imprecations, he adds, according to a vast multitude of other things, each of which he acquired ancient traditions, had such an extraordinary power, that great fame for predicting.'
no man who was loaded with them could avoid being unOne of the striking paradoxes which the conduct and done. At the present day the Indian nations, not to mencharacter of this remarkable man exhibits, is the practice tion other instances, have always their magicians with them of arts forbidden by the law, and abhorrent to its genius, in in their wars, to use incantation against the adverse party. conjunction with the knowledge and worship of Jehovah, | In the late war with the British, the Burmese generals had and was even in the habit of receiving intimations of the several magicians with them, who found plenty of employdivine will. The question naturally arises-How did he | ment in cursing our troops; and when their zealous exbecome acquainted with the true religion? When we learn ertions in this duty were discovered to have been without that he belonged to Mesopotamia - the country beyond the success, a number of witches were sent for with the same Euphrates—it is difficult not to apprehend that he held to purpose. Mr. Roberts, who mentions this fact, adds, that such remains of primitive truth which existed in that the expedient is also sometimes resorted to, of introducing region in the time of Abraham, of Jacob, and of Laban; , a potent charm among the opposing troops, to secure their and which a man of his sagacity must have seen to be in- | destruction. finitely superior to the corrupt systems of a later age. And 22. • God's anger was kindled because he went.'-Not this is probably the true explanation. Hengstenberg in- simply because he went, for he had been told to go; but deed, who has entered largely into the whole subject in because the wages of unrighteousness' made him but too Die Geschichte Bileams und seine Weisagungen, suggests willing to go. He had been directed to go if the princes of that he had been led to renounce idolatry by the reports | Moab came to call him; but it appears that which had reached him of the miracles attending the wait for their calling, but arose in the morning and went Exode; and that having experienced the deceptive nature with them. Besides, the Arabic version of the Pentateuch of the soothsaying art, he hoped, by being a worshipper | reads. because he went with a covetous disposition; and of the God of the Hebrews, to acquire fresh power over this reading is probable, as it coincides with the motive nature and a clearer insight into futurity. But the sacred of conduct which the apostle (2 Pet. ii. 15) assigns to narrative gives no reason to suppose that Balaam had any Balaam, previous knowledge of the Israelites. In Num. xxii. 11, 24. And the angel of the Lord stood in a path of the he merely repeats Balak's message (without intimating vineyards, a wall being on this side, and a wall on that side.' that he had heard of the miracles wrought in their be
-The high roads of Syria, which pass over the mountains, half); and the allusion in xxiii. 22, might be prompted consist of merely a beaten track ; but those which pass by the divine afflatus which he then felt. And had he through gardens and · vineyards' are so narrow, that two been actuated in the first instance by motives of personal asses can only just pass one another in the widest parts; aggrandisement, it is hardly probable that he would have whilst in many places a man cannot pass by an ass without been favoured with those divine communications with the greatest precaution. On each side of such a road there which his language in xxii. 8 implies a familiarity.
is a bank, or wall,' to prevent the soil from being washed 5. · The river of the land of the children of his people.'-
away by the heavy rains. What river? This precise explanation rather confuses than
As to the riding upon an ass, so frequently mentioned in elucidates the indication. We have therefore little hesitation Scripture, the reason will be instantly perceived from this in accepting the reading given in a considerable number of
description of the roads. Horses are very unsafe in traancient Hebrew manuscripts and versions, which, instead of
versing this mountainous country, where the traveller must frequently ascend and descend flights of stairs, pass
through the beds of torrents, and clamber up the faces of bene-ammon, children of Ammon.' The river of the chil.
rocky hills. It is true that mules are frequently used, dren of Ammon was the Euphrates; and Pethor was a especially as beasts of burden, and are considered the most town on that river-as we learn from chap. xxiii. 7, and valuable species of animal in these mountainous districts. Deut. xxiii. 4, that Balaam came from Aram-Naharaim, or The asses are of a description superior to those of western Mesopotamia.
climes, and some of them are fine and handsome. The cost 6. ' Curse me this people.' — It has been an opinion It has been an opinion very
of a really good one is from five to ten pounds, being much extensively prevalencople
in different countries and in different more than that of a common horse. Fine horses can only ages of the world, and which still exists, that there were be used in the plains, which form but a small part of Syria. individuals who had power, through the performance The saddles of asses, so often mentioned in Scripture (see of sundry rites, or by an exertion of an occult influence v. 21), were doubtless of the same kind as shewn in our with the hidden world, to devote others to inevitable de cut from contemporary Egyptian sources, that is, merely struction. It was even thought, among most ancient a mat or quilted cloth, such as are still seen in the East, nations, and even at present in the barbarous and semi although a kind of pad is also now in use. barbarous nations of Asia and Africa, that there were such 28. * The Lord opened the mouth of the ass.'-No better persons whose power brought a curse upon entire armies. observations on this subject can be offered than are conThis was effected sometimes by words of imprecation, and tained in the following extract from Bishop Newton's exsometimes was preceded by, or connected with, certain cellent Dissertations on the Prophecies:- The speaking solemn rites and sacrifices, as in this instance of Balaam. ass, from that time to this, hath been the standing jest of Several examples of such curses or banns occur in classical every infidel brother. Maimonides and others have conhistory, both on individuals and collective bodies; and in ceived that the matter was transacted in a vision; but it the Scripture history itself, instances of something very appears rather more probable, from the whole tenour of similar are found. The recent case, in which Hormah the narration, that this was no visionary but a real transwas devoted to entire destruction, is in principle not wholly | action. The words of St. Peter shew that it is to be underunlike this and several parallel examples. Thus also stood, as he himself understood it, literally, (2 Pet. ïi. Goliah cursed David by his gods, devoting him to utter 14-16.) The ass was enabled to utter such and such sounds, destruction. In similar cases we frequently read of the probably as parrots do, without understanding them: and Romans devoting a person to the infernal deities. This say what you will of the construction of the ass's mouth, people had proper officers, whose business it was to perform of the formation of the tongue and jaws being unfit for the ceremonies which were connected with such an act, speaking, yet an adequate cause is assigned for this wonwhen a public measure. Some of these ceremonies are derful effect, for it is said expressly, that “ The Lord
opened the mouth of the ass :" and no one who believes in mouth and tongue were under God's direction, and that a God can doubt of his power of doing this, and much the same Divine power which caused the dumb ass to more. The miracle was by no means needless or super- speak, contrary to its nature, could make him, in like fluous; it was very proper to convince Balaam that the 1 manner, utter blessings contrary to his inclination.'
cursed ? or how shall I defy, whom the LORD 1, 13, 28 Balak's sacrifice. 7, 18 Balaam's parables.
hath not defied ?
9 For from the top of the rocks I see him, And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here and from the hills I behold him: lo, the seven altars, and prepare me here seven oxen | people shall dwell alone, and shall not be and seven rams.
reckoned among the nations. 2 And Balak did as Balaam had spoken; 10 Who can count the dust of Jacob, and and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar | the number of the fourth part of Israel? Let a bullock and a ram.
'me die the death of the righteous, and let my 3 And Balaam said unto Balak, Stand by last end be like his ! thy burnt offering, and I will go : peradven- 11 And Balak said unto Balaam, What ture the LORD will come to meet me: and hast thou done unto me? I took thee to whatsoever he sheweth me I will tell thee. | curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast And 'he went to an high place.
4 And God met Balaam : and he said unto | 12 And he answered and said, Must I not him, I have prepared seven altars, and I have take heed to speak that which the LORD hath offered upon every altar a bullock and a ram. I put in my mouth ?
5 And the LORD put a word in Balaam's 1 13 And Balak said unto him, Come, I mouth, and said, Return unto Balak, and thus pray thee, with me unto another place, from
whence thou mayest see them : thou shalt see 6 And he returned unto him, and, lo, he but the utmost part of them, and shalt not see stood by his burnt sacrifice, he, and all the them all : and curse me them from thence. princes of Moab.
14 | And he brought him into the field of 7 And he took up his parable, and said, | Zophim, to the top of 'Pisgah, and built seven Balak the king of Moab hath brought me altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on from Aram, out of the mountains of the east, every altar. saying, Come, curse me Jacob, and come, 15 And he said unto Balak, Stand here by defy Israel.
thy burnt offering, while I meet the LORD 8 How shall I curse, whom God hath not yonder. 1 Or, he went solitary. 2 Heb. my soul, or, my life.
offered have premet Balaamplace." tell thee.
thou shalt e said, Retuput a woock and a fahave take? And he altogether and, be
the mohun hath by and said.
16 And the LORD met Balaam, and put Jacob, neither is there any divination against a word in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Israel : according to this time it shall be said Balak, and say thus.
of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God 17 And when he came to him, behold, he wrought! stood by his burnt offering, and the princes of 24 Behold, the people shall rise up as a Moab with him. And Balak said unto him, great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: What hath the LORD spoken ?
he shall not lie down until he eat of the prey, 18 | And he took up his parable, and said, and drink the blood of the slain. Rise up, Balak, and hear ; hearken unto me, 25 And Balak said unto Balaam, Neither thou son of Zippor :
curse them at all, nor bless them at all. 19 God is not a man, that he should lie ; 26 But Balaam answered and said unto neither the son of man, that he should repent : Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the hath he said, and shall he not do it? or bath | LORD speaketh, that I must do? he spoken, and shall he not make it good ? I 27 And Balak said unto Balaam, Come,
20 Behold, I have received commandment I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another to bless : and he hath blessed ; and I cannot place; peradventure it will please God that: reverse it.
thou mayest curse me them from thence. 21 He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob, 28 And Balak brought Balaam unto the neither hath he seen perverseness in Israel : | top of Peor, that looketh toward Jeshimon. the LORD his God is with him, and the shout | 29 And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me of a king is among them.
here seven altars, and prepare me here seven 22 'God brought them out of Egypt; he bullocks and seven rams. hath as it were the strength of an unicorn. l 30 And Balak did as Balaam had said, and 23 Surely there is no enchantment against i offered a bullock and a ram on every altar. 4 Chap. 22. 33. 5 Chap. 24. 8.
Verse 1. • Build me here seven altars, and prepare mesures of rice; and, if they cannot go so high, will at least here seven oxen and seven rams.'— Without entering into take care to present an odd number. The same excellent the large question respecting the true character of the re work gives the most striking illustrative analogy to the markable man who gives these directions, we must admit present procedure of Balaam which has ever fallen under that, with reference to the mystical number seven, they our notice. It is there stated, that when a king goes forth savour strongly of the tricks of magic and incantation. to battle, he makes a sacrifice to the goddess of the royal Israel had but one altar for sacrifice ; nor could more than family (Veerma-kali) to ascertain the result of the apone have been necessary for any real purpose which Balaam proaching conflict, and to enable him to curse his enemics. had in view, unless that of mystifying the king. It is in For this purpose, seven altars are placed in front of the deed possible that he sacrificed to a different deity on each temple, near to which are seven vessels filled with water, altar; but this the bearing of the context seems rather to upon each of which are mangoe leaves, and a cocoa-nat forbid. It is certain, however, that Balaam was not the with its tuft on. Near to each altar is a hole containing only ancient personage who, in religious services, mani fire. The victims, which may be seven, or fourteen, or fested much regard for the number seven, with which some twenty-one, and consist of buffaloes, rams, or cocks, are superstitions or other continue to be connected in most | then brought forward, and a strong man strikes off the count ur own not excepted: for, as observed by Sir head of each victim at one blow, after which the carcase is Thomas Brown, who has largely investigated the subject thrown into the burning pit, with prayers and incantations. in his learned dissertation on the Great Climacterical The priest then proceeds to the temple, and offers incerse, Year,'— Number, though wonderful in itself, and suf- and after some time returns, with frantic gestures, deficiently magnifiable from its demonstrable affections, hath claring what will be the result of the battle. Should this yet received adjections from the multiplying conceits of response be favourable to the inquiring prince, the priest men, and stands laden with additions which its equity will takes a portion of the ashes from each hole, and, throwing not admit.' Of these additions, the number seven, and, them in the direction of the enemy, pronounces upon them after it, the numbers nine and three, have received the the most terrible imprecations. largest measure. Many instances of superstitions con 10. · Who can count the dust of Jacob, and the number of nected with these numbers, and of odd numbers in general, the fourth part of Israel ?'— The frequent comparison of a might be adduced from the writings of classical antiquity. great multitude to the dust or to the sand, is quite in conThe following, from Virgil (Ecl. viii. 73), with respect to formity with modern Oriental usage. The people of the the number three, is as remarkable, of its kind, as that con East generally, whether in towns or camps, have the most cerning seven in the text:
confused and indeterminate ideas of numbers, as we have • Around his waxen image first I wind
already had one or two occasions to notice. Thus, a Three woollen fillets of three colours joined;
Bedouin Arab, when questioned concerning the number of Thrice bind about his thrice devoted head,
people in a town he has visited, or even concerning the Which round the sacred altar thrice is led.
numbers of his own tribe, or of the cattle belonging to it, Unequal numbers please the gods, etc. --DRYVEN.
will generally look bewildered, and ask in return, . Who
can count the sands of the desert ?' and sometimes he will We learn from the Oriental Illustrations, that the
otherwise express the same idea (or rather want of idea by number seven is generally attended to by the Hindoos in grasping a handful of dust or sand, and throwing it into their offerings. The poorer sort will offer seven areka the air, to describe the incalculable numbers concerning nuts, or limes, or plantains, or betel leaves, or seven mca. | which he is questioned.
not also to thy messengers which thou sentest 1 Balaam, leaving divinations, prophesieth the happi
unto me, saying, ness of Israel. 10 Balak in anger dismisseth him. 13 If Balak would give me his house full 15 He prophesieth of the Star of Jacob, and the of silver and gold, I cannot go beyond the destruction of some nations.
commandment of the Lord, to do either good And when Balaam saw that it pleased the or bad of mine own mind; but what the LORD LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at 'other saith, that will I speak ? times, 'to seek for enchantments, but he set 14 And now, behold, I go unto my people : his face toward the wilderness.
come therefore, and I will advertise thee what 2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he this people shall do to thy people in the latter saw Israel abiding in his tents according to days. their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon 15 | And he took up his parable, and said,
Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the 3 *And he took up his parable, and said, man whose eyes are open hath said: Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the 16 He hath said, which heard the words of man whose eyes are open hath said :
God, and knew the knowledge of the most 4 He hath said, which heard the words of High, which saw the vision of the Almighty, God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes falling into a trance, but having his eyes open: | open :
5 How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, and * 17 I shall see him, but not now: I shall thy tabernacles, Israel !
behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a 6 As the valleys are they spread forth, as Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise gardens by the river's side, as the trees of out of Israel, and shall 'smite the corners of lign aloes which the Lord hath planted, and Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth. as cedar trees beside the waters.
18 And Edom shall be a possession, Seir 7 He shall pour the water out of his buck- also shall be a possession for his enemies; ets, and his seed shall be in many waters, and and Israel shall do valiantly. his king shall be higher than Agag, and his 19 Out of Jacob shall come he that shall kingdom shall be exalted. .
have dominion, and shall destroy him that 8 'God brought him forth out of Egypt; remaineth of the city. he hath as it were the strength of an unicorn: 20 And when he looked on Amalek, he he shall eat up the nations his enemies, and took up his parable, and said, Amalek was shall break their bones, and pierce them the first of the nations; but his latter end through with his arrow3.
shall be that he perish for ever. 9 He couched, he lay down as a lion, and 21 And he looked on the Kenites, and took as a great lion: who shall stir him up ? up his parable, and said, Strong is thy dwellBlessed is he that blesseth thee, and cursed is ing place, and thou puttest thy nest in a rock. he that curseth thee.
| 22 Nevertheless 'the Kenite shall be 10 I And Balak's anger was kindled against wasted, "until Asshur shall carry thee away Balaam, and he smote his hands together : captive. and Balak said unto Balaam, I called thee to 23 And he took up his parable, and said, curse mine enemies, and, behold, thou hast Alas, who shall live when God doeth this ! altogether blessed them these three times. I 24 And ships shall come from the coast of
11 Therefore now flee thou to thy place: Chittim, and shall afflict Asshur, and shall I thought to promote thee unto great honour; afflict Eber, and he also shall perish for ever. but, lo, the LORD hath kept thee back from 25 And Balaam rose up, and went and honour.
returned to his place : and Balak also went 12 And Balaam said unto Balak, Spake I | his way. 1 Chap. 23. 3, 15. Heb. to the meeting of enchantments. 8 Chap. 23. 7, 18. Heb. who had his eyes shut, but now open.
9 Or, shall be eren to destruction. 10 Heb. kain. 11 Or, how long shall it be ere Asshur carry thee away captire :
5 Chap. 23. 22.
6 Gen. 49.9.
7 Or, smite ihrough the princes of Moab.
8 the first of the nations that warred against Israel, Exod. 17. 8.
Verse 5. 'How goodly are thy tents, ( Jacob!' etc.- , The annexed engraving will serve as a general illustration See the notes on Gen. xxv. 27, and Num. ii. 3; the former of the subject, affording a view of a Bedouin encampment, referring to the tents of the Arabians, which probably bore, and exhibiting the form of its tents. a general resemblance to those of the Hebrews; and the 6. · Lign aloes.'—This was some kind of tree remarklatter to the beautiful arrangement of the camp, which able for the beauty of its foliage and the fragrance of its seems more particularly to have excited the strong and I wood. But such. terrible defeatures' have been comtinely-expressed admiration of Balaam on this occasion. | mitted in those once-flourishing regions, that it would lie
difficult to say precisely what tree it was. It belonged | name was applied to the Macedonians (1 Macc. i. 1; perhaps to the cone-bearing family, inasmuch as the word xviii. 1). The Vulgate makes it Italy, and Bochart supe denotes also a tent, which, from the manner of pitching' | ports the interpretation, extending it, however, to the it, resembles in measure a fir or pine-tree. This was per- | neighbouring isles, especially Corsica. Others regard the ! haps the same as the Agallochum of Dioscorides, which he name as denoting the isles of the Ionian and Ægean seas. tells us was burnt for the sake of the odorous fumes that it | From the best consideration we are able to give to the produced. The word is rendered by tent' in the ancient subject, we incline to think that the name Chittim is one version.
of large signification (like our · Levant') applied in a loose 7. • Higher than Agag.'—The comparison strongly im sense to the isles and coasts of the eastern portion of the plies the national importance of the Amalekites at this Mediterranean, without fixing the particular point, alperiod. It is thought that Agag was a name common to though particular and different parts of the whole may be all the kings of the Amalekites. Another king of this indicated on different occasions. The meaning of this rename occurs in the history of Saul (1 Sam. xv. 9, 33); markable prophecy seems very clear, and was accomplished and in Esther iii. 1, the term Agagite' is used as equiva in all its details. It appears to mean generally, that Moab, lent to . Amalekite,
Edom, and Amalek should be smitten by the Israelites; 21. • Thou puttest thy nest in a rock.'—The Hebrew word, who should, in their turn, be overcome and taken captive from which . Kenite is formed, signifies a nest, and seems (with the Kenites) by the Assyrians; who should themto contain an allusion to the eagle, which delights to form selves, ultimately, be afflicted' by the Greeks and Roits nest among the inaccessible rocks and mountains. The mans; and that, in the fulness of time, they also should metaphor signifies security; which security, in the in utterly perish. tended sense, the Kenites derived from having followed - Eber.'—The Hebrews are doubtless principally inand dwelt among the Israelites--expressed by the fine tended ; but perhaps including also the kindred nations figure of building their nest in a rock.
equally descended from Abraham. 22. * Asshur,' that is, Assyria.–See the notes on 2 Kings This verse is a remarkable prediction that persons xv. A prophet from Mesopotamia was likely to take par sailing from the coasts of Chittim should subdue Asshur ticular notice of Assyria.
and Eber- that is, the inhabitants of the west should van24. • Chittim.'-Writers on the geography of the Bible quish the dwellers in the east. The writers who consider entertain remarkably different ideas as to the country or the predictions of Balaam to be prophecies after the event, countries intended by this denomination. On the au- | appear not to have considered that this would bring us thority of Josephus, who is followed by Epiphanius and down to so late a period as the Grecian age, in which the Jerome, it is generally supposed that the Chittim migrated whole passage could only have been inserted upon the supfrom Phænicia to Cyprus, and founded there the town of position of most arbitrary dealings with history. The Citium, the modern Chitti. Some passages in the prophets truth of the Biblical narrative, here, as in many other in. (Ezek. xxvii. 6; Isa. xxiii. 1, 2) imply an intimate con stances, evinces its own power. dection between Chittim and Tyre. At a later period the